Bipartisan legislation introduced Monday would provide $755 million in federal money over the next five years to build new spaces for truck parking or to convert existing weigh stations and rests stops for that purpose.
The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, introduced by U.S. Representatives Mike Bost (R-Illinois) and Angie Craig (D-Minnesota), carves funds out from existing U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) programs (including the national highway performance, surface transportation block grant, highway safety improvement, and national highway freight programs) and dedicates them to a truck parking competitive grant program. Applicants would be required to submit detailed proposals to DOT.
“One concern for truck drivers is the lack of enough safe parking spots where they can get the rest they need without risking collisions on the shoulder of the highway or being forced to push their limits to find the next rest stop,” Bost said in introducing the bill. “This puts the truckers and other motorists at significant risk. That’s why I’m proud to lead this effort to create sufficient rest parking options for long-haul truckers.”
An official from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which has been working over the past year to help craft language in the bill, told FreightWaves last month that including the legislation in the surface transportation reauthorization could be a way of getting it passed.
“The national truck parking crisis is also a national highway safety crisis,” said OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer. “Truckers don’t want to park on the side of the road. It creates a hazard to them and the motoring public. But sometimes there’s literally no other option. This bill has the potential to generate much more truck parking capacity, and every member of Congress should support it.”
The American Trucking Associations, National Association of Small Trucking Companies, National Motorists Association and Truckload Carriers Association also support the bill.
Starting in fiscal year 2021 with $125 million, funding available for the grant program would increase $10 million-$15 million per year through fiscal year 2025, when $175 million would be available. Those eligible to apply for the grants include states, public agencies, metropolitan planning organizations and local governments. Applicants have to agree that no fees would be charged to commercial trucks for parking at the facilities.
According to the text of the bill, priority would go to applicants that:
- Demonstrate a safety need for the parking capacity in the corridor where the project is proposed;
- Have consulted with affected state and local governments, trucking groups, and private providers of similar parking;
- Demonstrate that the project is likely to increase commercial motor vehicle parking capacity, facilitate efficient freight movement, and improve highway safety, traffic congestion, and air quality; and
- Demonstrate they can provide for the maintenance and operation cost necessary to keep the facility available for use after construction finishes.